Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes for the First Time!

Sweet Potatoes from California on the Left & my son's Homegrown 'Radiance' Sweet Potatoes to the Right!

When I buy sweet potatoes-- the ones with the orange flesh-- I generally call them 'yams' and they generally come from California.  (My son was very serious about their being sweet potatoes-- here is information about the difference between a sweet potato and a yam).

Sweet potatoes figure in a lot of Southern U.S. cookery, and have made their way into Canada over the years of my adulthood.  I do believe that you could buy them in a can (yuck) when I was a child, but that was about it.  In Northern Saskatchewan, where potatoes were always white.

I remember eating them caked with brown sugar.  The taste of the sweet potato was unfamiliar and not as comforting as the good old "Irish" or white potato I grew up with, so the sweet potato with the addition of brown sugar just seemed... disgusting.
This beautiful orange flesh makes me call this a yam-- but it is a sweet potato!
But then, more years rolled by and I became a vegan.  I began to really enjoy the sweet potato (still calling it a "yam")-- in savoury casseroles, in soups, even as a dessert pie-- and of course, as fries!

So, this year our vegetable-farmer-son grew sweet potatoes for the first time!  On an acreage in deep boxes near Powell River on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.
The lot of the sweet potatoes from his harvest-- some were in the 1# range, many were like peanuts lol

The fruits of his labour are really pretty amazing!  He had many little puny ones, of course, but in general the plants put off about 3-5 tubers-- some weighing in the range of 1 pound.  (He said he saw organic tubers at Whole Foods that were in the 2 pound range, but there is no Whole Food Store around here, so I didn't see those.)

And he really didn't get his cuttings into the ground until July, by which time the tubers had begun to develop in #1 nursery pots and grew, as a result of the cramming, crooked.  He plans to do his own cuttings this coming year, and be ready to go earlier.  If we enjoy the hot summer we had for the last couple of summers, he hopes to get something like 100# of sweet potatoes with a goal of 200# in years to come.
Add the cuttings to a cup of water for about 4 days to sprout

So, you can start your own plants by cutting the vine stems and putting them in a cup of water for about 4 days to root, and then into the number #1 pots with some soil, or maybe right into the ground.  They grow straight downward.

Sweet potatoes love sun and heat.  Our son only watered his plants at the time of planting and later on when they were particularly dry.... that is TWICE over the growing time!

He grew them in a 4 x 8 raised box with soil amended with peat moss, cocoa coir and compost. He mulched with fur chips.  He thinks that they would do well in a green house or covered with a sheet of plastic to suck up the heat.

You can read more about/order the cuttings for the new variety called "Radiance" here from the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Classic Vegan Roast (or Burger)

This roast recipe is adapted from a recipe in the March 1998 issue of Veggie Life magazine when vegan cookery was really in its infancy in North America.  You might be able to find these 'classic' magazines in a local thrift shop like I did.  They are gold!

INGREDIENTS: T=Tablespoon  C=8 oz Cup  Pound=16 oz  g=Gram

  • 1 medium organic Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or use water or broth)
  • 3 cloves organic Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C. chopped Walnuts
  • 1/4 C. organic Rolled Oats (Gluten Free, if you eat that way)
  • 1/4 pound (115 g) Shitake Mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 2 C. organic Vegetable Stock or Water (I use the vegan stock from Costco)
  • 1 T. organic Soy Sauce
  • 3 T. Dijon-style Mustard
  • 3 T. organic Ketchup
  • 2 T. Red Wine, Balsamic or Apple Cider Vinegar (what you have)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • 350 g organic Firm Tofu, crumbled small (a regular size block of firm tofu)
  • 3 T. organic Starch (Arrowroot, Tapioca or organic Corn Starch-- what you have)
  • 1 C. organic Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs (or Gluten-free Bread Crumbs)
  • 1/2 C. Rolled Oats to coat (Optional) 

  1. I like to measure out all my ingredients into ramekins or bowls before starting and then I can just do the 'cooking show' dump as needed.  A food processor could be used to do most of he job (above), just process each item separately as required: onion, walnuts, mushrooms, tofu.  Mincing the garlic with a knife is likely easier.                 
  2. Saute the onions in a skillet (fry pan) over medium heat (about 5 minutes, until soft).  Add the garlic at about the 4 minute mark (just before the onions are done) for another 5 minutes.  Transfer the onion and garlic to a large bowl, and set aside.
  3. In the same frypan, toast the walnuts, stirring often (BEWARE: turn your back and they will scorch), for about 3 minutes, or until fragrant. 
  4. Stir in the oats and mushrooms with the walnuts, and saute, stirring, for about 5 minutes.  
  5. Add the Vegetable Stock (or Water) and turn the burner to high.  Reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes, to reduce the liquid.
  6. When the contents of the pan seem almost dry, stir in the soy sauce, mustard, ketchup, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Cook until thickened, and then add to the bowl with onions mix. 
  7. MAKING THE LOAFPreheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 177 degrees Celsius.  I used parchment paper in my loaf pan, but you could use a light coat of oil, or a silicone pan-- the idea is to be able to remove the baked loaf easily.  Spoon in the mixture and press down.  You can add a coat of crumbs or oats (press them down well).  Bake for 40 minutes until firm.  Allow it to cool for about an hour before slicing.                                                                             
    Oven-ready Classic Roast Loaf
  8. MAKING BURGERS: Shape into 8 burger patties.  Dredge (coat) both sides of the burgers lightly with rolled oats. Saute in minimum oil for about 4-5 minutes each side, until brown and crispy.  

This lovely roast makes fabulous 'meat-less loaf'' sandwiches for lunches.  8 servings.

Here are some other plant-strong recipes that you might enjoy:

5 Sausage Recipes for Transitioning Vegans

Vegetarian Turkey Recipes

Yummy No-Meat Balls

Sometimes vegans and vegetarians are scared off organic tofu and other organic soy products by well-meaning (?) "health researchers".  Check out the following reviews of scientific studies by Dr. Michael Greger at Nutrition Facts.org to put those fears to rest:

Who Shouldn't Eat Soy?


What if you’re at high risk for breast cancer? See BRCA Breast Cancer Genes and Soy.
What if you already have breast cancer? See:
What if you have fibroids? See Should Women with Fibroids Avoid Soy?.
What about hot flashes? See Soy Phytoestrogens for Menopause Hot Flashes.
What about genetically modified soy? See GMO Soy and Breast Cancer.
How deleterious is hormone replacement therapy? See How Did Doctors Not Know About the Risks of Hormone Therapy?.
Synthetic estrogens used in animal agriculture are also a concern. For more on this, see Zeranol Use in Meat and Breast Cancer.
If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to Dr. Greger's videos for free by clicking here.

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